Wednesday, November 08, 2006

SPI economic development strategies

At last night's CPAC meeting David Horton presented a super concise summary of the TIP Strategies workshop powerpoint presentation. I wish I had taken notes but there were some fairly heretical conclusions:

SPI will never be a shopping mecca - that just isn't what people come here to do. We want to make our visitors come back over and over again? We need to take care of our number one draw: the beach.

Don't plan on a bunch of baby boomers relocating here - lots of other communities are rolling out the red carpet for these folks and they are likely to relocate closer to home/family/friends, wherever that may be (Lufkin was mentioned specifically). Furthermore, many of them are planning for a "working retirement" - and it is doubtful that bartending or table-bussing are the kind of career options they will seek.

Texas Rio Grande Valley is one of the fastest growing population centers in the country. This is where our visitors are coming from and where they will continue to come from. (They will stop at that new outlet mall in Mercedes on their way here, of course.) The good news is that occupational projections in the valley for the next decade are trending to management, professional and technical. These folks will have money to spend and as the closest resort destination, SPI stands to benefit.

The challenge for the town will be dealing with greater numbers of drive-in visitors. That means more traffic and parking issues. The goal will be to get our visitors to park their cars when they arrive and make it really easy for them to walk or use public transportation while they are here.

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29 Comments:

Anonymous Stephanie said...

I keep hearing that the Island doesn't have any "good shopping" I think what we don't have is a good Shopping area. There are actually quite a few nice shops but they are spread up and down the boulevard among the not so nice shops and one has to drive from one to another. Port Isabel is much better situated to offer good shopping because of the square (one of the many reasons there needs to be cooperation between the two communities.)

People live in and visit this area because of the water - the gulf and the bay. They fish, windsurf, kiteboard, surf, maybe they just like to sit and look. I agree - lets focus, protect and improve on what we have - the beach. Better beach and bay access, cleaner beaches, improved parking, more evening outdoor activities for families (with island property values going skyward that again could be the domain of Port Isabel and how they fit into the picture.)

8:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every tourism study in the world tells us shopping is the #1 activity of tourists. It is not the main draw, that would be the beach, national park, etc., but once they arrive, that is what they do. How else do you account for malls in Las Vegas and Hawaii and every other successful tourist resort in the world?

This kind of negative thinking is why this area has not prospered.
When traditional approaches do not work, INVENT SOMETHING THAT DOES. Innovation made this country great.
Unfortunately, around here, we tend to say, "Man, it is hard, let's don't do it."

Of course, we can attract permanent residents. This area has so much to offer that would have wide appeal to people across the country if they just knew about us.

Fortunately, there are many people who came here from areas which were prosperous and are not stuck in this kind of pattern of negative thinking. They will be the only salvation for the island.

And you had better hope they will succeed because if they don't, you will have high rise condos from the beach to the bay. That's the alternative to strong business, folks.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

Rather than ramble on as I usually do, let me ask a couple of "loaded questions."

Is this economic view in line with the advertising plans run by the CVB? [Billboards in Dallas?]

Is this economic view in line with the the developers who predict a glut of "boomers" to buy mega condos?

Is this economic view in line with the desires of the BOA to create a top-of-the-line venue for shops and resturants?

I await with baited breath ...

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The number one goal of the TIP study is to:
"Increase the number of permanent, retired and seasonal residents".
If the super concise summary concludes that boomers arent coming here, the next logical conclusion would be to pay thousands of dollars for this studay and once again ignore what they are recommending.
When are we going to learn????

10:46 AM  
Blogger Lucinda said...

Don't shoot the messenger!
"Negative Thinking" is very different from "ignoring the facts" and "wishful thinking."

Sure, we could use more, nicer shops and Stephanie you are absoutely right that we do not currently have a good shopping area. That can still happen -- the town can zone in "shopping squares" as the town expands north but right here right now it is going to be up to private enterprise.

Anonymous - we can invent a lovely beach town that doesn't want or need a mall or a wally world.

Hey! We already have!

From the handout (re "Retiree Trends & Attitudes):
- Retirement is more of a transition than a sudden event
- Only one in five will relocate. Most prefer to stay near family, friends & familiar places

Thinking about ways to attract and serve the needs/desires of more of our base - Valley residents - is NOT "negative thinking." It is realistic.

10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

not white or black!! There are areas still in the "downtown" which could become shopping areas (Stephanie); there are "niche" retail stores which might do well on this Island (no, Sandy, not mega shopping malls!); there is not a lot of inventiveness at some staff levels; (Sam) -- it is in line with the current BOA ideas; and the problem seems to be that some folks take an either/or approach to the whole thing without trying to find a good middle ground. And as for retirees, a lot of them don't need the old second job and, sure, there may be fewer people who want to settle here but we want them, don't we? How about a retirement-living based campaign -- not through the CVB because it is not their shtick but a new group???

11:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's take a broader view. My career involved troubleshooting, and I went all over the world to do that. I rarely went into a small town that did not say "We're unique, that won't work here." I never left a town without finding a way to successfully implement whatever policy it was they were resisting. This is human nature, but it should not drive policy which will benefit the island.
every person's "reality" is driven by his or her own life experiences and perceptions.

11:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So keep your heads buried in the sand (no pun intended) while the developers manipulate you with divide and conqueor tactics. Wake up, guys! Of course, developers and those they control do not want strong business. Business takes up land; permanent residents buy a place and keep it rather than putting it on the market every other year like investors which puts commissions in the pockets of realtors. This is Economics 101!

12:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Economics 101 also says that year around residents spend money year around and that helps the local economy...

12:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To address Sam's question, at the last Board of Alderman meeting, the aldermen directed a group be formed to review the two recent studies (one for EDC one for CVB) which said very similar things. This group is to look at how the recommendations for improving retail and increasing the permanent population could be implemented. The reports do not say bring in just "top of the line" retail. They are very specific that the island should be eclectic with something for everyone. We need more diverse retail. But, we are unlikely to get any retail until we improve the demographics upon which businesses determine where they are locating. Most businesses do not want to deal with the seasonal nature of our economy. Our permanent population has not risen in 10 years. Why? Because we are not out there like other areas trying to attract permanent residents, retirees or otherwise.
Why? Could it be the influence of developers and realtors and their buddies on the BOA?

1:44 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Well I'm certainly learning new things every day, and I didn't mean to sound sarcastic when asking a few questions.

Perhaps it comes down to a good mix of "heads in beds," more permanent residents (retired or otherwise), and perhaps a certain middle ground of eco-tourism, call it want you want (the nice folks that run around all day, drink one or two glasses of expensive wine in the evening, and drop a ton of money?).

So we have a couple thousand new hotel units, and few thousand condo units going up or on the books, but has anyone thought about the latter crowd I was mentioning? Many of these foks love the B&B places, although we don't seem to support or market them very well. Perhaps I am way off base again, as usual.

All I can hope is that Spring Break fades into the sunset and new kinds of people visit the Island. The kids are great but not great spenders, unless you're in the hotel business that robs them of quadruple overnight charges.

Indeed, the Island seems to be changing fast and on its own, and I wonder when or how we can catch up with all the changes. I look forward to helping in that spirit.

4:32 PM  
Anonymous Stephanie said...

I wish all the anonymous people would at least number themselves - Anonymous 101 snd so forth - it gets confusing trying to follow the discussion.

Other than the water and beach and related activities I am interested in some ideas from any of the Anonymous group as to what would entice someone to live permanently full time in this area.

P.S. Funky Feet is a great little store, One Particular Harbor has some nice gift ideas, Sea Turtle, Inc has a great sea turtle related gift shop, Sisters and Cactus Flower both have many unique gift and decorative items, Isla, Rica, LunaSea, Islands, Barbara's, Becky's Place, Calyspo all have different clothes for different tastes, On the Beach and Island Native have surfer stuff. The Cat House has some great gift ideas, Zestes, Naturally's - good gormet and organic food. There is shopping here you just have to know where to go not every store is a T-shirt shop it just seems that way.

6:21 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

I do have respect for small business, even if they are T-shirt shops. But some little devil way down deep inside my psyche wants to bulldoze them down and put up something more tasteful in their place. Please forgive me - the devil made me do it! /Sam

7:46 PM  
Anonymous Ann said...

Not sure I agree with all you say feet … been a long time observer of this blog and first time contributor …I respect your viewpoint but wish the comments you post were not so consistently laden with an undertone of solution less negativity.

Our family of four moved to the island in June from Fort Worth (not “the valley”) and we are boomers not retirees. Not sure why it is so hard for people to understand why anyone would move to the island permanently – the answer is simple - lifestyle – relaxed, low-key, low crime rate, and most important to us a "campy" small town environment – that coupled with the climate, beach, wildlife, bay and all the activities that naturally come along with this area.

We are not newcomers by any stretch. We have been coming to the isla for over 25 years – first time - during spring break! I find it interesting how so many bitch about spring breakers – spring breakers grow up, eventually, and as my husband and I have - become the next generation of investors and residents. People come to this island and fall in love with many facets – yes the beach is premier, HOWEVER it is the balance of an experience, that makes it appealing – not just one aspect.

I strongly disagree with you about the need for a quality shopping experience. Over the years we have hosted countless numbers of friends to this wonderful paradise. Yes, without question, the beach is the first line of entertainment, however like it or not shopping is an activity that many enjoy and something this island continually disappoints. Better than it was 25 years ago but still lacking.

Many successful resort areas (and yes we live in a resort area) are great places to find unique specialty items that can't be found in an “outlet mall". Like it or not shops, unique one-of-a-kind, local art, etc, are an aspect of a community that enriches and without question brings people back.

This island is an entire package and people will buy, invest and live here because it meets their needs in MANY ways not just one.

8:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

here, here ann
the Island doesn't do everything well
it does some things well
beauty is in the eye of the beholder
and yes,
sandy how about being fundamentally positive instead of possibly negative?

9:09 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Ann, I think Lucinda would agree about negativity but I would beg you to read her posting one more time:

"At last night's CPAC meeting David Horton presented a super concise summary of the TIP Strategies workshop powerpoint presentation. I wish I had taken notes but there were some fairly heretical conclusions ..."

1) David presented the TIP
2) Some conclusions were heretical

What followed was Lucinda's recollection of the TIP as presented, as best as she could from memory because she did not take any notes.

To draw the conclusion that (3) Lucinda wholeheartedly believes all this [hogwash] is something rather strange, as she never said she did. How or where did you pick that up?

Lucinda can defend herself but when I read her exact words in the first paragraph, I don't get what you are getting. I mean golly it's her birthday and here you are ragging on her like you think she loves all those heretical conclusions!

Did Lucinda say she thought some of those half-baked ideas has maybe a little bit of merit? No, but certainly some of those concepts are already happening as far as some very crude demographic trends. Perhaps she is guilty by association, just because she repeated them in her own handwriting.

I find that rather shocking.
Sam

9:41 PM  
Anonymous Ann said...

If you had read my comments accurately Sam you would have noted that I said I was a long time observer and that her comments in this forum were consistently more on the negative side and lacked actionable solutions. You are a great defender of Lucinda and she has a great supporter in you.

10:02 PM  
Anonymous Ann said...

I also agree that the opinions pinned by any anonymous writer are not worth reading - unless of course they are tied to a great act of kindness or charity - in today's anonymous bloggers comments there is neither charity nor kindness. If you are going to throw barbs, spout your opinion, then put your name on them.

10:13 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

OK, that's fair, Ann. I read again what you wrote. Hey let's be cool and sorry if I was being out of line. Lucinda can form some strong opinions sometimes ... and the whole Island knows that. She's Sandy Feet, OK? I still say she wasn't carrying the "negative message" banner this time, but let's let that be water under the bridge.

As to the anonymous posts, right on, Ann!

11:52 PM  
Blogger Lucinda said...

Hey Ann ...? (Does posting just a first name make you any less "anonymous"?)
Please note this is NOT A FORUM. This is MY BLOG. On MY SERVER to which I devote MY TIME to write on issues that interest ME.

You too can have YOUR OWN BLOG where you can say all positive happy things all day long if you should so desire.

But don't expect ME to read it.

1:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A point to remember is the recommendation that the island needs more shopping did not come from island residents or from the consulting firm, it came from information provided by tourists who were here. It is their opinion that is important.

By the way, Lucinda does a great job of marketing the island whether we always agree or not.

4:22 AM  
Anonymous Gulfless said...

As a tourist, I am there for the beach, the air, the relaxation. On a week trip, we’ll rent bikes and hit darn near every store, but that’s a lot less shopping, than entertainment. That’s pretty much what it is at all of our vacation spots. If there is a need for more “good shopping” why isn’t it there already? Seems like business would be beating down the door to get into that market. I think I finally have a business model that would work, a seasonal multi-use store. Sell condoms, beer & thongs during spring break, beach towels & sunscreen in the summer, quality home furnishings in the swing seasons, and a martini bar that sells walkers on the side in the winter.

9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry your last posting was removed Ann. Some of us got up early enough to read it.

Welcome to the Island, Ann. It's not all bad, there are many who think like you. The others are not bad people, just been isolated on the island so long what is obvious to us is not to them.

The sad part is if they get what they want in this case (avoiding more residents and better business), the thing they fear the most will happen. Single family homes will disappear to make room for high rise condos from the Gulf to the Laguna Madre.

Prices and taxes will go so high they can't afford to live here. But, they are distrusting of advice from people who have seen this happen elsewhere. Probably the same story everywhere this has happened. The long-time locals
just could not believe that it would happen and failed to take steps to prevent it...like encouraging more permanent residents and working for strong business and strong tourism. Keeping the community diverse rather than letting it evolve to a single identity... second home owners in condos with little or no business community and no tourism.
No Sandcastle Days!

Lucinda, I don't expect you will post this, but please READ it and think about it. Most of us are on the same sheet of music.

9:14 AM  
Anonymous Stephanie said...

Who wants to avoid more residents and stronger businesses? I don't get that from any of the posts?

For those of you short timers, part of the issue is that we keep paying for studies, and paying for studies and then not following any of them. I have often wondered if there is some "answer" that the powers to be want and they are going to keep paying for studies until someone makes the recommendation that they want.

I WANT more full time residents, I get tired of living in a world of generally empty condos I am interested in what some of the respondents have in mind as far as attracting them that has not been done.

Also to the person whose early morning response was deleted - why do locals complain about spring break - well wait until you have lived through a few - traffic gridlock, broken bottles on streets and driveways, drunken people passed out on your lawn, yearly deaths or disablements from people who chose to drink and drive, noise, litter, vomit, nudity, noise, muggings, rapes, hit and runs, the sporting event of throwing TV's out of the window to watch them smash on the concrete below, another sporting event of toss the port a pot, and oh yeh noise.

10:18 AM  
Blogger Lucinda said...

For the record: I would love to see more business, more residents and fewer walls of empty condos. I am spending a lot of my free time reading massive packets and serving on committees trying to make this a better place to live for current and future residents. (And I don't give a flip about whether or not we have Sandcastle Days any more. I put in 18 years on that one and didn't get so much as a thankyou-very-much as they kicked my ass out the door.)

Yeah, I have strong opinons that I am not afraid to identify with my real name and nobody is forcing anyone to come here and read them. Feel free to engage in constructive dialogue but do not put words in my mouth or assign me motivations that do not exist because I have no problem hitting the delete button.

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If that is true, and honestly, based on reading this blog for sometime, it is the first time I've read that, why initiate postings such as the one which started this thread? Why encourage the negativity from people who try to block everything unless you buy into it yourself?

Wouldn't it be better to use that sharp mind of yours to find ways to DO these things?

Why delete postings from people who are trying to make a contribution and allow those from people who want to take the Island back to where it can never go. Talk about being realistic!

Still I'm glad to read that you support increasing permanent residents and strong business.

Many of us appreciate your service on the CPAC. For those of you who do not know, this committee has been meeting EVERY week. That's a lot to ask of anyone.

Hope you had a happy birthday in spite of all this debate (which is totally non-personal as far as I am concerned).

Spring Break will continue no matter what we do, at least during Texas week. We need to follow the example of other places and protect our residents' rights. But, there has been reluctance to pass or enforce such measures. It is a shame most of the residents have to leave the island and many non-Spring Break businesses (beauty shops, professional offices, etc) have to close at that time. But, at least until we can achieve a non-seasonal economy, many of our businesses depend heavily on it.

11:23 AM  
Blogger Lucinda said...

"...why initiate postings such as the one which started this thread?"

I thought my readers my be interested in discussing the results the TIPS Strategies workshop. Apparently, there are some would prefer to remain in blissful ignorance -- and think that everyone else should too.

"Why encourage the negativity from people who try to block everything unless you buy into it yourself?"

That is just silly. I don't know what you think I am trying to block but if you bothered to attend any CPAC meetings (which are posted and open to the public) you would have a pretty good idea that it isn't more shops. All I am saying and have ever said is that I think the shops will come when the crowds do. That is how free enterprise works.

"Wouldn't it be better to use that sharp mind of yours to find ways to DO these things?"

Um. Do you think I spend my Tuesday evenings contemplating traffic patterns and pedestrian crossing issues because I can't think of a better way to not do something??!!

"Why delete postings from people who are trying to make a contribution ..."

I have only deleted posts that were personal attacks on me and that I felt did not contribute to the discussion. I have no problem with posters who merely disagree with me.

"...and allow those from people who want to take the Island back to where it can never go."

Well, that is all a matter of opinion. I think there are also people out there - maybe you are one of them but who knows as you are hiding behind a mask of anonymity - who are trying to take the island to a place where it cannot go.

Anyway, I am closing discussion on what I should or should not delete, whether I am a throwback or a drag on the community, blah blah blah blah blah. This is not about me. If you have a comment regarding the original post that does not include a personal attack on the original poster, you are welcome to state it.

Thank you.

1:14 PM  
Blogger Pedro said...

Unfortunately, whether you are speaking of residents v. condos, or studies v. common sense or better retail areas v. status quo, basic economics, supply and demand are in control of the future of SPI. And, for those of us who love SPI for what it was, it ain't going to be that way again. And the folks that are in charge and prevail won't ever let it be. There is too much money at stake.

9:29 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Mi amigo Pedro,

You are right in that we need to follow the money and not some cooked-up vision of the future. And, the money is, well, acting weird.

There has been some tightening in the residential market with more days on the market and more price lowering to attract potential buyers. Whether this phonomena lasts very long is anyone's guess, but the condo folks do not want this informations to leak out, as it could hobble some major projects. Call it "market softness" if you must, although SPI still has a great return on the dollar if you stayed in the game long at all.

An early indication of economic softness was when Clayton was going to build some nice condos next to Wanna Wanna. He tried the two-story and eleven-story and a big fat 16 story condo scenario and withdrew them from P&Z review before he let out all the details (which is why I am being vague).

Touch-and-go is the name of the game these days. Thank God the peso hasn't completely crashed, as was predicted. Some small businesses are smiling and some are having to look for work like the devil, some are on the verge of outright failure.

Follow the money.

12:22 AM  

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